Farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic as well as established organic producers have another opportunity to apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative funding to assist their organic efforts. The deadline for this application period is May 20, 2011.
The USDA recently announced that they will, for the third consecutive year, invest $50 million in funding for the EQIP Organic Initiative, which provides a 75% share of the cost of implementing organic conservation measures to those who qualify - 90% for beginning, limitedresource and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
According to Traci Bruckner, Center for Rural Affairs, farmers and ranchers can receive compensation for six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management) under the program. These are available on a nationwide basis. Farmers who want to apply for these funds should visit their local District County Natural Resource Conservation Service office. The Center for Rural Affairs is gearing up to help producers as much as possible during this application period.
An EQIP Organic Initiative fact sheet is available at - http://www.cfra.org/node/2509 - and a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call in their questions is also available at (402) 687-2100. Ask for the Farm Bill Helpline and speak to a real person who can help producers receive assistance in accessing new programs like the EQIP organic initiative.
The Farm Bill Helpline can also assist farmers and ranchers with the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnerships Initiative, the Value Added Agricultural Market Development Program and a host of beginning farmer and rancher programs.